This post first appeared as “My Good Friday Dress” on leannefriesen.com. Republished with permission.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit how much time I spend on a Sunday morning looking at my closet and deciding what to wear. I know it’s not that unusual for people to spend time thinking about their clothes, but as a woman working as a pastor I feel extra pressure to choose the right thing. There is one day this week, however, where my mind is already made up about what to wear. I already know that this Friday, I will wear my Good Friday dress.
I didn’t know that this dress would become my Good Friday dress. It began on Good Friday 2013, when the dress was still new (to me). Just a few weeks before I had traveled back home to Newfoundland to spend the weekend with my my sister Roxanne and my other siblings. We were gathering because Roxanne had a terminal cancer diagnosis and we wanted to enjoy a fun weekend together before she began another treatment.
Now, if there’s one thing that a trip with Roxanne always involved, it was shopping. I still have not met anyone who loves to shop quite like Roxanne did. I went on that trip VOWING that I would not get sucked into buying anything. I only brought a small carry-on suitcase to help hold myself to my convictions. But then Roxanne took us to this super-cute consignment store in St.John’sand I ended up buying a sweater, a blouse and a wrap dress (so much for the small suitcase!).
When Good Friday came a few weeks later, I put on the wrap dress I bought that day. The main reason was that it was a black checkered dress and I like to wear dark colours on Good Friday. It was an appropriate dress for a pastor to wear on Good Friday.
Then came Good Friday 2014. By then, my dear sister had already been dead for nearly a year. On that Good Friday, I cried as I looked at that dress. I remembered buying it with Roxanne. I remembered how she raved about how it looked, said I simply had to get it, that I’d regret it if I didn’t. I missed her so much. I hated that we would never shop together again. I hated that that trip to that consignment store was the very last time we had ever shopped together. For a moment, I hated that dress.
And then I put it on, that Good Friday 2014.
I put it on because it is still a very appropriate Good Friday dress. It is a dress that makes me lament. It is a dress that makes me grieve. It is a dress that makes me sad to the very deepest parts of my heart. It is a dress that makes me miss my sister. It is a dress that makes me say: “I hate death.” It is a dress that reminds me of why we need Good Friday.
Good Friday was a day of death – but a day that also meant that death would be defeated. On Good Friday we grieve and lament the death of Jesus, but we also hold on to the hope that came because of His sacrifice. Our hearts are heavy, but they are not without hope.
This Friday I will once again wear again my “Good Friday dress.” I will be sad. I will remember what Jesus did. I will remember my sister. I will lament, and pray, and grieve, and hope. Then I will come home, and I will hang that dress back up, and it will be ready again for another Good Friday.
Here is my confession: I still struggle getting rid of clothes that I bought with my sister. My sister has been dead almost five years, and there are items that no longer fit, are out of style or are simply worn out. Over the last couple of years, I have been trying to let more of these things go. I am reminding myself that I don’t need to keep old clothes to remember my sister. Yet, with each piece that I give away, I feel a sadness at what feels like another good-bye. I pause. I remember. Sometimes I cry. And then I let them go, and I know that it is good.
But I have no plans to let go of my Good Friday dress. Every time I see it I will remember trying it on in that little consignment store and Roxanne’s excited voice telling me I had to buy it. Every time I wear it, I will remember the pain of loss, and the gift of remembering.
As usual Roxanne was right – I am so glad that I bought that dress.